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When it comes to being killed, a girl like Choo Choo deserves the best!

Baldy and the Strip-Tease Murder

By Jack Kofoed

MISTER BALDY SIMMONS is not in the habit of visiting burlesque theaters, because the jokes are at least thirty years old and the chorus girls sometimes even older. However, there is a strip-tease character named Choo Choo Wallace, whose figure makes even the Venus de Milo look like an old bag.

It is unfair to Mr. Simmons to say he goes to the Bijou just because of Choo Choo's figure, though thousands of other people do exactly this.

Miss Wallace is the daughter of a fellow Baldy is acquainted with from 'way back when Rum Row is better known than the Stork Club. He is Light Fingers Wallace, one of the best liquor dealers of his time. Light Fingers, however, has the misfortune to spend all his money hiring lawyers to keep him out of the sneezer during prohibition days, so when Choo Choo gets into the dough, she has to keep pappy as well as herself.

Choo Choo is not too cheerful about this situation, because she finds it necessary to spend plenty of potatoes on such things as diamonds, sables, and a Park Avenue penthouse. To make it more complicated, Light Fingers is unhappy if he is unable to bet a sizable wad on the horses and he is one of the worst pickers in the entire world. This combination keeps the Wallace bankroll in a tired and frazzled condition.

As a matter of fact, just this very afternoon Choo Choo calls Baldy and speaks in this manner: "It is up to you to sell a bill of goods to the old goat I am unfortunate enough to have for a pater. He loses more dough on the horses than Nick the Greek is able to win at dice, and I am getting sick and tired of paying off bookmakers. Unless he stops playing the ponies, I cut him off my payroll and let him break his heart by going to work."

"This is a very drastic thought," says Baldy. "There is only one job Light Fingers knows, and since there is no longer any profit running illegal wet goods from Bimini, I am unable to think, offhand, of anyone who hires him. Besides, he is out of practice at working."

"I do not care," Choo Choo tells him. "Light Fingers chooses between me and the horses."

Since getting Mr. Wallace to stop betting is about as easy as turning a dipsomaniac into a Carrie Nation, Baldy decides to stroll down to the Bijou, and have a little chat with Choo Choo. It may be she relents a little bit.

It is about ten o'clock when Mr. Simmons appears at the stage door. Dad, the doorman, greets him affably.

"What do you do in these parts?" Dad asks. "I understand you spend no small amount of your time solving murders and such things. Nothing is murdered around the Bijou, except a sense of humor and the English language."

"I am here to see Miss Choo Choo Wallace," says Baldy.

Dad clicks his tongue.

"I guess there is no cure for it," he says. "I do everything in my time from running booze to driving a taxi, and a guy seldom reaches an age when he figures it is good policy not to chase after dames any more. You are too old for such nonsense and do not have money enough to fool around with Choo Choo Wallace, anyway. She is strictly a dame who requires a champagne pocketbook of her boyfriends, as well as a Barrymore profile. This is true, with a single exception, and you are not it."

"Be yourself," Baldy says. "I am here on business, and it is not the business you obviously have in mind. While I am not old enough to go haywire about Miss Lillian Russell, I realize quite well I am not young enough to do likewise about Miss Choo Choo Wallace. I hope and trust I arrive between her appearances on the stage, since I do not have time to hang around this rat trap very long."

"You are in luck," the doorman tells him, "since she finishes her strip number and does not go back into action for another forty minutes. I admit the customers do not like this, because our chorus is made up of honest grandmothers, and our comics never read a joke book that is printed after the McKinley administration. But even Choo Choo cannot go out there and take off her clothes twenty times a day. As she says, there must be interludes."

BALDY offers Dad a Corona Bravura cigar, which costs him no less than half a buck. He does not do this entirely out of the goodness of his heart but because Dad knows everything that goes on around the theater and once worked on the rum boats with Light Fingers. Thus, chances are, he keeps an eye on Choo Choo and is able to tell the score at practically any moment of the day or night.

"The situation shapes up something like this," Mr. Simmons says. "Choo Choo and her daddy are in something of a dither. To be perfectly frank, they are not getting along."

Dad lights the Corona Bravura, and meditates.

"I know the family from beginning to end," Dad tells him. "As a matter of fact, Light Fingers and me is pals from 'way back, and I do not wish to hear anything bad about him. If anyone causes the current upheaval, it is a character named J. Biddle Salisbury, whose real name is Mickey O'Toole."

"This Salisbury personality is new to me," admits Baldy. "Where does he fit into the picture?"

"He is a very good-looking wolf, who makes passes to Choo Choo like Sammy Baugh does to his receiver on the football gridiron. I give you six, two and even that Choo Choo does not miss a single one of them, because J. Biddle is calculated to make the heart of any dame go pitter-patter. But he has no more dough than I have and is putting the bite on his girlfriend for so much that she cuts down on Light Fingers. When I am a taxi jockey, I find out it is ethical to cheat some people and not others, and I do not believe Choo Choo has any right to hold out on her pappy."

As he says this, Dad pulls a face as sour as though he bites on a pickle. It is clear J. Biddle Salisbury has a very low rating in his book. This is perfectly understandable to Mr. Simmons, who does not like gigolos very much, either.

"I hope to straighten this out when I have a chat with Choo Choo," he says, "and then I think I have a word or two with Mr. Salisbury."

"Well," says Dad, "if you stroll over to the Somersetshire Hotel after a bit, you find him there. As a matter of fact, you only miss him by a little in this very spot. He is here to see Miss Wallace. By the happy look on his puss when he comes out, I deduce that Choo Choo hands him a neat bale of lettuce. But if you wish any kind of a conversation with the lady, you better go in now, because you may not finish by the time she has to take off her clothes for the public."

"When do you see Light Fingers last?"

"About five minutes before J. Biddle Salisbury is here. When Light Fingers takes his departure, he looks like a rainy afternoon in Panama. I suppose Choo Choo turns him down when he asks for a bob or two to bet on the bangtails. Some children are very ungrateful."

Since it seems there is nothing more to be learned from the doorman, Mr. Simmons goes into the theater. The place smells of mustiness, greasepaint, powder, and sweat, which is not an uncommon thing in a burlesque joint. He goes down a hall, lit by a couple of electric bulbs, looking for Choo Choo Wallace's dressing room. In front of it is a middle-aged crone, with more wrinkles than somewhat, trying to open the strip- teaser's door. Her name is Madeleine Haggerty, and she is Choo Choo's maid.

"Oh, Mr. Simmons," she says with a little sigh of relief. "I am glad you come. Something is wrong. The door is locked, and Miss Wallace does not answer, though she is supposed to go on in twenty minutes or so."

Baldy knocks on the door but gets no answer. Since he investigates murders, robberies, mayhem, and such, he always carries a skeleton key, because he finds it very handy. He slips it into the lock and opens the door.

Whereupon the maid utters a perfectly horrible shriek and falls unconscious into Baldy's arms. There is a very good reason for this.

Choo Choo Wallace is lying beside her dressing table, and it does not require more than a single glance to see that she is very, very dead!

Miss Haggerty's scream brings the stage manager on the double. Apparently the first thought that comes to his mind is that it is necessary for someone to take his star's place. Murder or not, the strip-tease must go on!

"Tell Bubbles to get ready," he shouts. Then he turns to Mr. Simmons. "What is this all about?"

"Somebody obviously bumps Choo Choo off," says Baldy. "I take charge of this unpleasant situation until the police arrive. Tell Dad to allow no one to leave the theater. If anyone does, Detective Lieutenant Johnny O'Keefe is very sore at you. When Johnny gets sore, bumps and bruises develop. You better phone him right away."

WHEN the stage manager, whose name is Kittlebock, departs to carry out the order, Baldy makes a quick examination. Choo Choo meets her fate by being bashed over the noggin with a very hard object. It is a tire iron such as is often used in automobiles. There is no doubt about its being the lethal weapon, because it has blood and hair on the business end.

There is no sign of a struggle. Nothing is upset or disturbed, so the supposition is that whoever it is who commits this crime does it in a sudden burst of rage.

Detective Lieutenant O'Keefe arrives in short order, accompanied by a couple of plainclothesmen. The show is stopped and the audience dismissed. Then the company is gathered on the stage for questioning. This questioning gets nowhere.

During the show everyone is busy—much too busy to notice who goes in or out of Choo Choo Wallace's dressing room. No one hears screams or anything, which is natural, what with the band making a racket, and people singing and dancing, and so on.

Of course, it occurs even to O'Keefe that one person ought to know. This is Madeleine Haggerty, the maid, though there is no known reason in the world why she boffs her employer over the head. However, she soon proves Choo Choo gives her the day off and she spends it with her sister's family. However, she begins to worry about the stripper getting her costumes mixed up. Though how anybody gets mixed up on the scanty apparel Choo Choo uses is quite beyond all imagination. So she returns.

The only story that makes any sense is the one Dad tells about Light Fingers Wallace and J. Biddle Salisbury.

"Now, we are getting somewhere," says Johnny O'Keefe. "This Salisbury character is the last one to see her alive, so he is the murderer. It puts the finger on him beyond any doubt. The motive appears to be clear enough. Miss Wallace's maid says her mistress has no less than five grand in her handbag today—and the handbag is now empty, save for the usual collection of lipsticks, compacts, and other such junk dames carry around with them. Clancey, go over to the Somersetshire Hotel and put the clamp on Mr. Salisbury. The rest of you go now, but be around in case I want to ask more questions. Mulligan, take that iron to the lab and see what the smart guys have to say about it."

After this, Detective Lieutenant O'Keefe and Baldy Simmons go to Pappadopulous's place for something to eat.

"I like a deal like this," says Johnny, digging into an onion and limburger on rye. "Nice and clean and the murderer cuffed in a hurry. This makes my record look very good, indeed, and gives me more time to play gin rummy with Pappadopulous."

"What makes you think it is all cleared up?" asks Baldy. "Maybe you find somebody else's fingerprints on the murder weapon."

"Not a chance. J. Biddle is the last one in Choo Choo's dressing room. He takes dough from her? needs plenty to keep up appearances. Five thousand clams are missing from her bag. Besides all this, it is a cinch the lady does not give herself the boff on the noggin. Who else does this but the last character who sees her?"

"Conceding all these things," agrees Baldy, "I do not yet see Mr. Salisbury being strapped into the hot seat."

"Why, may I ask?"

"I do not believe there is enough proof that J. Biddle is the last visitor. So far as Dad knows, he is, but is it not possible that another gets in?"

"Go on," says Johnny O'Keefe a little moodily.

"Leave us examine the scene," suggests Mr. Simmons and outlines the backstage terrain.

THE hall on which Choo Choo's dressing room faces is an offshoot from the one which leads from the back door to the stage. Two comedians occupy cubbyholes, which are about the size of a closet, and not too big ones at that, on either side of Miss Wallace's place. The rest of the cast, including the chorus, have their dressing rooms on the next floor, which is reached by a spiral iron staircase.

"Now, here is the dope, as I see it," Baldy says. "The only people who come to visit Choo Choo are her father and sweetheart. This is vouched for by Dad, the doorman, and no one gets in without him seeing them. However, it is entirely possible someone in the company slips into this dimly lit hallway and enters Miss Wallace's dressing room without being observed. I also learn that the two alleged comics, who dress in the tanks next to her room, are in plain sight of somebody at the time she is being knocked off."

O'Keefe studies this for a moment.

"I see what you mean. It is possible for someone to come off the stage and while a lot of other people are swarming up that stairway, to slip in here unnoticed. Then he is able to boff Miss Choo Choo and duck out again. Even Dad is unable to see this, because of the angle of the wall. At any rate, even if it does not happen, it is certainly a possibility."

"It sure is," agrees Mr. Simmons.

"But I still hold with the idea that J. Biddle Salisbury is the murderer. He is the logical person, and I am a great guy for logic."

"Logic is grand, but killings do not always ride with it. By all means lock J. Biddle up in a nice, comfortable cell, but do not stop investigating on this account. It is entirely possible that a comic or a chorus girl or the stage manager does the job. Do you not remember The G String Murders, written by Gypsy Rose Lee?"

"Yeah, but?"

"So do not be surprised if one of the company is guilty this time, too."

"For what reason?"

"If the five grand is a motive for Salisbury, it is one for a guy like Kittlebock, for instance. The finance company is hot after him. Maybe Bubbles Houlihan gets tired of being an understudy. Maybe Madeleine Haggerty comes back in time to do the job herself. I see various possibilities aside from this gigolo."

"I play my cards," said O'Keefe a little grumpily, "and you lay yours. Gosh darn it, we always seem to have different ideas!"

"Brother," Baldy tells him, "what I do or think is not important. The police pay me nothing. I get no rewards. But if you make too many wrong moves, it is your neck, and not like losing a few bobs to Pappadopulous at gin rummy, either."

Now, Detective Lieutenant Johnny O'Keefe has a very high regard for Baldy Simmons. He knows Mr. Simmons is often right, and it is also clear that coppers who frequently arrest wrong characters find promotion difficult and painful.

"Give me the dope," he urges. "If J. Biddle Salisbury is not guilty, tell me who the killer is. I do not wish to get fouled up. Ever since I put the arm on Crimpy Joe for an arson job it turns out was committed by Wacky Will, the commissioner is keeping the evil eye on me."

"I do not know who the killer is," Baldy tells him. "All I say is, do not jump off the deep end by assuming J. Biddle Salisbury is the guilty party, even if it seems so at the moment."

WITH this, he takes his departure and goes immediately to Choo Choo Wallace's expensive penthouse on Park Avenue. Light Fingers, is there, in his shirt sleeves, with a glass of bourbon in his hand. He looks unhappy and down in the mouth, which is to be expected, since the police inform him only a little while ago what happens to his daughter.

"If I get my hands on J. Biddle Salisbury," he says, "I save the state the expense of a trial and execution. This moozler is putting the bite on Choo Choo for months. It is a cinch he kills her and gloms onto the five grand she has in her handbag. A guy like this deserves to be chopped into very fine pieces, such as they prepare hamburger."

"What I do not understand," says Baldy, "is why your daughter has so much change in her handbag. As a matter of fact, I understand she is running close to the deadline as regards money and plans to trim expenditures."

"Cutting down on me. Sure." Light Fingers gets up and rambles about the living room. "I am only her father. It is all right for her to stop the handouts to me but not to that profile, Salisbury."

"This discussion, of course, sheds no light on why Choo Choo has so much lettuce in her handbag."

"No mystery there," Wallace insists. "I put down a bet for her on Hotspur at Belmont this afternoon. The nag waltzes in at 20 to 1, and I take the money over to her."

"Who else knows she has all these potatoes on hand?"

"Salisbury, the big bum. Choo Choo tells me she promises him half of what she wins on the bet."

"Anybody else?"

"This I cannot answer. Choo Choo, however, has a lip as loose as a banana skin, and chances are she brags all over the theater about winning. But do not try to put the finger on somebody else. J. Biddle Salisbury is the murderer, and if the police do not take care of him, I personally attend to the matter in no uncertain terms."

At the finish of this dissertation, he hands Baldy a goblet of bourbon and water, and they meditate in silence for a while.

Then Mr. Simmons speaks to Choo Choo's pappy in this fashion:

"Light Fingers, I know you from 'way back in Miami when you deal in the best assortment of liquors ever brought into port. You have a logical mind, but in this matter, it seems to me you go haywire. There is a reason, because you are in a distraught condition. But I do not see why this gigolo put himself in the shadow of the electric chair for five grand, particularly when the doll intends to give him half at once, and sooner or later he gets the rest, anyway. If so, he is a much dopier character than I have been led to believe."

"In reaching this decision, Baldy," says Light Fingers, "you do not take into consideration one fact. Choo Choo and J. Biddle quarrel frequently of late. As a matter of fact, no later than yesterday evening she remarks that the whole deal is off and she wants no part of him any more."

A statement like this just shows how upset Light Fingers really is. It does not match at all with what he tells about Choo Choo planning to split her winnings with J. Biddle Salisbury. Why is it necessary for the deceased Judy's pappy to lie? If a guy lies in a murder case, chances are he is trying to cover up somebody who, very often, is no less than himself. Certainly Choo Choo and her pappy have plenty of quarrels.

Personally, Baldy says to himself, I think suspicion in this head-bashing business is pretty equally divided between J. Biddle Salisbury and Light Fingers Wallace. However, since Salisbury is supposed to be the last to see her, the graver suspicion falls on him.

SO MR. SIMMONS bids his host a very pleasant good evening and goes off to the Bastille to have conversations with Miss Wallace's lover, who has already been taken in by Johnny O'Keefe.

Salisbury turns out to be a big, blond, good- looking guy, the sort for whom dolls go in a great big way. It is not hard to see why Choo Choo hands him dough when she has it and he has none, though Baldy is never able to understand a man who takes money from a woman.

"Johnny O'Keefe tells me about you," says J. Biddle Salisbury, "and I am very glad, indeed, to see you here. They tell me your batting average in getting murderers is something like one thousand percent. This is bound to help me, because they hand me an exceedingly bad rap. Nothing makes me harm a hair of Choo Choo's lovely head."

He begins to sob in a very quiet and gentlemanly manner.

When he has this slightly out of his system, Mr. Simmons starts with a few questions.

"Though you love her so much, I understand Choo Choo and you do a lot of pretty fast quarreling of late."

"We do not," Salisbury declares. "We are as close as adjoining fingers on the same hand. My darling is temperamental, and there are times when she blows up like an atomic bomb over practically nothing at all, but never at me."

"Not even when you ask for too much dough?"

J. Biddle Salisbury flushes to the roots of his blond hair.

"I know I am a rat about this, but I figure to pay it back one way or another if I am ever able to make a strike."

"And you know she wins five grand on Hotspur?"

"Of course. Choo Choo is very happy about this and, as a matter of fact, hands me a chunk of it."

"And," says Baldy, "you bop her over the head and take the rest!"

The young man springs to his feet, his eyes blazing.

"This," he cries, "is a complete and utter lie. When I leave the dressing room, Choo Choo is in a very happy mood."

Mr. Simmons takes out another Corona Bravura and lights it thoughtfully, then blows out the match.

"It is possible you tell the truth," he says, "but if you do not bump the lady off, who does?"

Salisbury shakes his head unhappily, looking real puzzled.

"I have no idea."

"Tell me in detail what happens."

"I come to the theater at nine-eighteen. Though I am by no matter of means a clock watcher, I notice this because of the big timepiece in Dad's cubbyhole. Choo Choo is doing her Oriental number, so I wait until she is through. She kisses me, and?"

"Gives you your cut?"


"Does she say anything about her pappy being there?"

The blond guy looks genuinely surprised.

"No, and I am quite sure he is not, because Choo Choo is angry with him and is certain to tell me if he shows up."

"Dad insists Light Fingers leave there at nine- fifteen, just before you arrive."

They stare at each other. The same thought occurs to each simultaneously. It is possible that Mr. Wallace comes after Mr. Salisbury departs and deals the knockout punch to his daughter. After all, he and Dad are old friends, and it is not too much to assume the doorman lies in order to cover up for his old pal.

"Does Choo Choo lock the door as you depart?" Baldy says.

J. Biddle Salisbury shakes his head.

"Not that I recall. Of course, I assume with all the cabbage she has on hand, she does this when going onto the stage, but there is no need while she is still in the dressing room."

This makes sense, but what Mr. Simmons does not understand is the fact that when he examines the strip-teaser's handbag, he does not find the key. Then, the character who kills her, locks the door and takes the key with him!

Baldy takes his leave. It is now about two o'clock in the morning, and he needs a bit of shuteye.

WHEN he awakes next day, he lies in bed for a while thinking things out. While he warns Johnny O'Keefe to keep his eyes on Mr. Kittlebock and Bubbles Houlihan and Madeleine Haggerty, he does not really believe any of these people is likely to turn out to be the murderer. It is just a precaution.

If the killer is discovered, he must decide who really sees Choo Choo last, who locks the door, and to whom the tire iron belongs. Turning over in bed, he calls the automobile license bureau and holds a lengthy conversation with a person named Ribblesmoot, who does him favors at one time or another when he is need of information about this or that. One thing he learns is that the tire iron is a peculiar one that is used only on automobiles made by the Gnome Company. The Gnome people manufacture everything, including trucks, pleasure cars, and taxicabs.

Without rising, he calls Detective Lieutenant O'Keefe.

"Johnny," he says, "it is just as well to call off your bloodhounds who cover the activities of Mr. Kittlebock, Bubbles Houlihan, and Madeleine Haggerty. I have an idea that, by discussing this matter with Dad, the doorman, we are able to clear up one point vitally necessary to solving the crime. This is who really is the last person to go into Choo Choo's dressing room last night."

"But, Dad says?"

"Sure, Dad says it is Salisbury. Maybe it is. But I like to be sure about things. Maybe it is Light Fingers or one of the others. I have a feeling he is covering up for somebody.

"Arrange to have Dad, Light Fingers, and J. Biddle at the Wallace apartment this afternoon at three o'clock."

"Roger!" says Johnny O'Keefe.

Whereupon Baldy arises, bathes, shaves, dresses, and wanders out into the sunlight. He goes to the apartment building, where the Wallace habitat is located, and stations himself across the street. Within a little while Light Fingers comes out and strolls down the avenue.

So, though it is technically illegal but in a good cause, Baldy enters the building, and with his skeleton key, admits himself to the ménage Choo Choo pays for with her strip-teasing. He gives it an expert frisking?and comes up with a packet of bills amounting to twenty-five hundred dollars and a key that looks as though it is made for the door of the fatal dressing room.

He leaves those things exactly where he finds them and takes his departure in a most unobtrusive manner.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, there is a gathering in the big living room of the Wallace apartment.

"I do not quite understand this deal," says Light Fingers, "but if there is any way in which I can help you gentlemen, please call on me. I am in such a nervous condition, however, that I may not be as good a witness as you desire."

"There are several points on which we wish to shed some light," Baldy tells him, "so leave us get down to brass tacks as soon as possible. For one thing, you tell me J. Biddle Salisbury and your daughter have a bitter quarrel. Not only does Mr. Biddle deny this, but he is substantiated by a number of Choo Choo's girlfriends, who know all about the romance."

Light Fingers becomes confused and upset. He looks this way and that like he is real nervous about something and finally speaks like this:

"I am sure Salisbury kills my daughter. It is open and shut, but I do not know how the coppers feel about this. So I want to convince them."

"If you lie about this, you lie about other things."

Mr. Simmons rises and walks to a table by the window. He opens the drawer and brings out a key and a roll of bills.

"If you are in the clear," he says, "why do you have the key to Choo Choo's dressing room and a sum of money that, strangely enough, is just half of what she wins at the race track? It is conclusively proved Choo Choo gives the other half to Mr. Salisbury."

LIGHT FINGERS becomes as white as a dish of vanilla ice cream and stares at the evidence. "Add to these things," adds Baldy, "the fact that Choo Choo owns a Gnome sports roadster, and the tire iron which kills her is only used on Gnome cars!"

Still, Light Fingers says nothing but only stares. Johnny O'Keefe rises and takes a pair of handcuffs from his pocket.

"Wallace," he says, "the jig is up."

"But," says Dad, the doorman quietly, "you overlook the fact that Mr. Salisbury is the last person to visit Choo Choo, and she is alive when her papa leaves her dressing room."

"Strangely enough," says Baldy, "this I believe?about Choo Choo being alive when her papa departs, I mean. But I am sure he does not come after Mr. Salisbury departs. Otherwise, she certainly tells him about Light Fingers' presence."

"I do not kill Choo Choo," protests Light Fingers, "and in the second place I do not know how this key and bale of lettuce gets in that drawer."

Johnny O'Keefe says a little doubtfully:

"This evidence is strong, but we still have no proof that Dad lies when he says Mr. Wallace visits Miss Wallace before Mr. Salisbury shows up."

"It is immaterial, anyway," says Baldy, "because neither Light Fingers nor J. Biddle bops Choo Choo."

"Then who does?"

"Dad, the doorman!" says Baldy.

Dad reaches for a gun, but Johnny O'Keefe knocks him on his derrière before he is able to get it. The doorman is propped up in a chair and speaks in this wise:

"All right?I do it. This dame deserves everything she gets, and I am not unhappy about it. Light Fingers arrives just after Salisbury leaves and when he takes his departure, he tells me Choo Choo not only refuses him money but hands out a fine tongue lashing to boot. I look in on her. She starts to bawl me out and hands me a slap in this face. So I get my tire iron, which I use for protection, and part her marcel wave.

"Pretty nearly everybody in the company is on stage, and no one see me. Then I begin to worry that Light Fingers is blamed for this deed, so I tell you and everybody else that J. Biddle Salisbury is the last character to see Choo Choo alive. Thus, I kill two birds with one stone."

"But why," asks Baldy, "do you hide the key and money here?"

"From the way Lieutenant O'Keefe talks, I figure the heat is off Light Fingers and I can find no better spot."

"Okay," says Johnny O'Keefe to the two plainclothesmen waiting in the hall, "take him away."

WHEN the others have departed and Light Fingers is mixing several goblets of bourbon and water, Johnny naturally wants to know how Baldy manages to pin the crime on the old doorman.

"This is, indeed, very simple," says Baldy. "The presence of the tire iron intrigues me, in view of the fact that Dad is once a taxi jockey. I check the license bureau and, sure enough, find that he owns two Gnome cabs. Besides, no one in the burlesque company is likely to see Dad enter or leave Choo Choo's dressing room. Besides, he likes neither Choo Choo nor J. Biddle Salisbury and if he is lying, he lies in favor of Light Fingers. I became convinced that Light Fingers leaves after Salisbury, which means Dad is the outstanding suspect, taking the tire iron into consideration."

"But how do you figure out the key and dough are stashed here?"

Baldy smiles faintly.

"Do you remember the story about the moron who finds the lost horse when nobody else was able to do it? When he is asked how he does it, he says: 'I just think where I'd like to go if I am a horse, and I go, and there he is!'"

"And you figure out what Dad considers the ideal hiding place?"

"I am just that kind of a moron," says Baldy Simmons.